It’s that time of year again. Time to drag up the songs we pretend to like for a month or so. Time to grit our teeth and pretend we’re not fully annoyed by the umpteenth playback of All I Want for Christmas is You. Yes, time to forget those bad Christmas songs are, well, bad! It’s ok. They’ll be over soon. But to help you through this season of vomit-inducing music, I’ve put together a little rant. This rant is here for you to feel vindicated in your opinions. You know, the opinions you’re not supposed to have at this time of year because you might just ruin the songs for others. So, get a glass of egg nog, sit back, and enjoy. It’s time for The fifth installment of the Holiday Hall of Shame!
Jessica and Ashlee Simpson – The Little Drummer Boy
At the first listen of Little Drummer Boy, the Simpson sisters just bored me. Not enough to put on the song on this list though. Sure, Jessica and Ashlee Simpson don’t do the Little Drummer Boy any favors, but aside from being the kind of drab you would hear on an all-Christmas radio station, The Simpson sisters didn’t commit any major sins. Oh, but then, I listened to Little Drummer Boy again, and it made me say what the actual hell? Were Jessica and Ashlee threatened and told to sing this in the most uninspired manner possible? Because holy crap, this is really boring. I mean really, really, really freaking boring. More boring than I originally thought. If I had the choice to listen to this song again or sit through the 2022 Disney adaption of Pinocchio again, I’d choose the Wooden Boy because that would be more entertaining!
Rolling Stone rated this version of The Little Drummer Boy as the worst Christmas song of all time. While they’re wrong (Ahem, Christmas Shoes), Jessica and Ashlee Simpson take any life out of the Little Drummer Boy. That’s right, no need to call an ambulance, just call the cops. The Little Drummer Boy died of boredom.
Christmas In the Northwest – Brenda White
If I told you there was a more boring song than the aforementioned version of Little Drummer Boy, would you believe me? Well, there is, and it’s called Christmas in the Northwest. It sounds like it was written in the 80s, and not in a good way. No, this is pure early adult contemporary schmaltz. Seriously, it sounds like a rejected song from a Disney film. Strike that, a Dreamworks film. And yes, the thesis is saying snow does not equal Christmas. I get that. I too, live in the Northwest and have seen very few White Christmases despite the mythology of snow during the holidays. But come on Brenda, convey your message in a way that doesn’t make me want to fall asleep.
If you want an extra laugh, watch the video. Yeah, the song states “Christmas in the Northwest is a gift God wrapped in Green.” But oh what’s that white stuff? Oh yeah, that’s snow! Yeah…mixed message much Brenda?
Heartbreak Holiday – Debbie Gibson (with Joey McIntyre)
When I heard Debbie Gibson released a new Christmas album, I was excited. Out of the Blue, Electric Youth, and Anything is Possible were mainstay albums in my adolescence. Well, let’s just make this short and simple. Heartbreak Holiday broke my heart. Seriously, Debbie, you’re better than this! Firstly, I have to attack Debbie’s singing. I know voices change as people age, but not like this. In Heartbreak Holiday, Gibson’s voice sounds like she smoked two packs a day from the 90s until now. Her voice is gritty, forced, and just sounds sad. But let’s also talk about the content. Yeah, Christmas breakups suck – but it’s a concept that’s been done to death. “Blue Christmas,” “Last Christmas,” (Christmas) Baby Please Come Home.” Hell, there’s an entire playlist! Enough with the subgenre already.
Did I think Gibson could deliver anything more than a Foolish Beat? I guess it was only in my dreams.
Mary, Did You Know – Any version
In the mid-80s, Christian Comedian / Gospel singer Mark Lowry wrote the lyrics for Mary, Did You Know. In the last 40 years, it’s been recorded dozens upon dozens of times. They all ask the question, Mary, did you know your kid would grow up to be the savior? Let’s put the record straight. The angel Gabriel tells Mary this very information in Luke 1:32. So yeah, Mary freaking knew. End of story. And yet here’s a whole song mansplaining to Mary about her child. I respect Lowry to a degree, I used to have a few of his comedy albums. But when he bases an entire song on something found right there in the scriptures, I got to wonder what the heck he was thinking!
Since Lowry wrote Mary Did You Know, the song has been recorded by Dolly Parton, Pentatonix, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Rogers (with Wynona Judd), CeeLo Green, and many more. There’s even a stage production. I got to ask, Marky, did you know, this song would be the heart of your retirement plan?
Last Christmas – The Backstreet Boys
Last Christmas should never be covered, ever. I must admit, I enjoyed the original as a novelty song. But enough with the covers already! The latest version by, of all people, The Backstreet Boys, reaches new lows. Firstly, wait, The Backstreet Boys are back (again)? Apparently, they needed money or something because they recorded a whole heap of uninspired Christmas crap songs. And Last Christmas is the biggest pile of steaming middle-aged boy band – I think you see where I’m going there. I really don’t have anything concrete to say about this version of Last Christmas. It’s just boring. I just have to wonder why the Backstreet Boys would even bother recording the song if they weren’t going to make the song interesting.
Ok, this isn’t a direct cover of Wham’s version. It’s kind of a cover of Wham, as well as a cover of the demo midi on the Yamaha SHS-10. No, seriously, they sing notes that are suspiciously close to that demo midi in the bridges. Seriously, who covers a freaking keyboard demo?
Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms
Jingle Bell Rock is a staple in any Christmas playlist. It’s been covered by the likes of Hall & Oates, Brenda Lee, Rascal Flats, Kelly Clarkson, and a myriad of other artists. But here’s the thing – it’s NOT a Christmas song! Tell me one thing Christmassy about the song. Go on, I’ll wait. Yeah, you probably said snow, jingle bells, and the like. Sorry, but none of those are inherently Christmas! They’re about winter!
So why do we insist that Jingle Bell Rock is a Christmas song? Oh, Jingle Bell Rock is (every pun intended) just the tip of the iceberg. Christmas music is flooded with wintertime songs that have nothing to do with the holidays. There’s Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman, Sleigh Ride, Winter Wonderland, A Marshmellow World, Baby It’s Cold Outside – I could go on, and on, and on some more. The point is, winter songs are not Christmas songs. Stop saying they are!
So, why include Jingle Bell Rock (et al) in this year’s Holiday Hall of Shame? This list was originally going to be a list of “Christmas” songs that weren’t really Christmas songs. In writing said list, I realized my thesis was pretty much the same on all the songs – they’re winter songs. It was better to lump all these songs together. Besides, it’s much more fun ripping apart The Backstreet Boys and the Simpson sisters. Don’t tell me it isn’t.
Come back next year for more bad Christmas songs!
There is nothing more Christmassy than a holiday tradition. And The Holiday Hall of Shame is a tradition. Check out my entries from 2018. 2019, 2020, and 2021. Why? Because ripping apart bad Christmas songs is fun! Seriously, you should try it sometime! And tell me your results as well. I do listen to others. In fact, credit where credit is due, my friend Dwight was the one who said, “Mary Did You Know was mansplaining!”
Happy Holidays everyone. And speaking of Christmas traditions, I once again forgot to include one of the worst Christmas songs ever recorded. Oh well, maybe next year. Well, enjoy it once more I guess.